Connect with us

Lifestyle

Check out this under-the-radar wildflower spot while you still can

Published

on

Check out this under-the-radar wildflower spot while you still can

If you thought the wildflower season was over in Southern California, think again.

The easily accessible Highway 39, also known as San Gabriel Canyon Road, from Azusa north to Crystal Lake Recreation Area is one of the best hidden gems where you can still peep wildflowers — at least for a while longer.

While we haven’t had a superbloom this year — where flowers carpet entire hillsides and canyons all over — there was in abundance of wildflowers last week along Highway 39. Visiting reminded me of my trip to Anza Borrego Desert State Park in March to see desert wildflowers and bighorn sheep. In both spots, fantastic colors swirled in seemingly unexpected places. (However, Anza Borrego’s wildflower season ended in April.)

1

2

Advertisement
Red bush monkeyflowers

1. California bluebells (Phacelia minor) grow on the hillsides around Highway 39 on May 8 in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa. 2. As do red bush monkeyflowers (Diplacus aurantiacus var. puniceus), as seen on May 9. (Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of people flock to the windy two-lane Highway 39 past the Morris and San Gabriel dams on their way to the east, west or north forks of the San Gabriel River for camping, hiking, picnics and recreation in the cool snowmelt. If you time your trip right, you may see what I saw: a localized explosion of wildflowers right next to the road and in the gullies and trails throughout the San Gabriel Mountains. As you drive north on Highway 39, you’ll notice a variety colors. Yellows, pinks and reds line the hillsides. Meanwhile, when a colleague visited Carrizo Plain National Monument, one of California’s most iconic wildflower viewing areas, in April, the wildflower display wasn’t as striking as years past. There were swaths of goldfields and pockets of other wildflowers there, but the tall, thick grass fueled by rainstorms crowded the views. The Carrizo display is “largely over this year,” according to Theodore Payne’s wildflower hotline.

Along Highway 39, there are many turnouts and parking lots to safely stop to get a closer look at the variety of native flowers on foot. (You’ll need a National Forest Adventure Pass to park, which is $5 for the day or $30 annually.) One of the best spots is the overflow parking lot for the Devil’s Canyon Dam Truck Trail right off the road up to the Coldbrook Campground.

1

Advertisement
Spring water bubbles over rocks.

2 A motorcyclist rides past wildflowers growing on the hillsides around Highway 39.

3 A sign that says "parked vehicles must display a forest adventure pass" along Highway 39.

1. Elizabeth’s Spring bubbles right out of the side of the hill May 7 on Highway 39. 2. A motorcyclist rides past wildflowers growing on the hillsides around Highway 39. 3. Remember that you will need a National Forest Adventure Pass when parking in the Angeles National Forest. (Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)

If you continue north, you can take a short hike to Lewis Falls in the Angeles National Forest and see Elizabeth’s Spring, a natural spring bubbling on the mountainside next to Highway 39. At the top of the road you’ll find Crystal Lake Recreation Area, where the Crystal Lake Cafe serves a simple menu including hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, chili and brownies, and there are first-come, first-served camping sites.

1 A bee lands on a sunflower off Highway 39.

2 Wide throated yellow monkeyflower

1. A bee makes a pitstop on a sunflower along Highway 39 in the Angeles National Forest north of Azusa. 2. Wide throated yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus brevipes) frame the side of Highway 39. (Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)

Advertisement

1 A stalk of purple lupine

2 Purple nightshade

1. Silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) grows on the hillsides May 8 around Highway 39 in the Angeles National Forest. 2. As does bluewitch nightshade (Solanum umbelliferum), as seen on the same day. (Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)

On your trip, you may see wildlife such as bald eagles, deer and perhaps bears. Remember to stay on the trails and not pick wildflowers to help the blooms return next year. Keep an eye out for snakes and if you venture farther on some trails, use tick and mosquito repellent, wear comfortable shoes and carry plenty of water.

Advertisement

Other spots worth a road trip to see wildflowers right now include Pinnacles National Park, the California Botanic Garden in Claremont and Los Padres National Forest near Los Olivos, reports the wildflower hotline.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Lifestyle

'Wait Wait' for May 25, 2024: With Not My Job guest J. Kenji López-Alt

Published

on

'Wait Wait' for May 25, 2024: With Not My Job guest J. Kenji López-Alt

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt attends the 2023 James Beard Media Awards at Columbia College Chicago in Chicago.

Jeff Schear/Getty Images for The James Beard/Getty Images North America


hide caption

toggle caption

Advertisement

Jeff Schear/Getty Images for The James Beard/Getty Images North America

This week’s show was recorded at the Paramount Theater in Seattle with host Peter Sagal, judge and scorekeeper Bill Kurtis, Not My Job guest J. Kenji López-Alt and panelists Shantira Jackson, Luke Burbank and Jessi Klein. Click the audio link above to hear the whole show.

Who’s Bill This Time
Till Indictment Do We Part, An AI No No, Sleepy Chic

Panel Questions
Not Your Grandma’s Land of 10,000 Lakes

Advertisement

Bluff The Listener
Our panelists tell us three stories about stain-blocking ceiling paint in the news, only one of which is true.

Not My Job: We quiz Serious Eats’ J. Kenji López-Alt on Serious Feet
J. Kenji López-Alt is a food genius. The two-time James Beard Award winner and creator of “The Food Lab” is one of the world’s smartest people when it comes to cooking, but can he survive our game called “Serious Eats, Meet Serious Feets”?

Panel Questions
Caught Red (or Possibly Blue) Handed, The Dog Ate My….What?!?

Limericks
Bill Kurtis reads three news-related limericks: A Study Abroad Souvenir, A Pie Goodbye, Eau de Teen

Lightning Fill In The Blank
All the news we couldn’t fit anywhere else

Advertisement

Predictions
Our panelists predict, after Senator Bob Menendez and Justice Samuel Alito did it, who will blame their spouse next?

Continue Reading

Lifestyle

Jax Taylor Hanging Out at Bar with Mystery Woman Amid Brittany Cartwright Split

Published

on

Jax Taylor Hanging Out at Bar with Mystery Woman Amid Brittany Cartwright Split

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Lifestyle

When Baby Sloth tumbles out of a tree, Mama Sloth comes for him — s l o w l y

Published

on

When Baby Sloth tumbles out of a tree, Mama Sloth comes for him — s l o w l y

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books


hide caption

toggle caption

Advertisement

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books


Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books

Doreen and Brian Cronin aren’t related — as far as they know. They first stumbled across each other on Facebook: two Cronins, both working in the world of children’s books — Doreen as an author and Brian as an illustrator — and living in the same city? They should probably get a cup of coffee!

“We decided to meet up. We both live in Brooklyn and we met on a bench in Prospect Park just to chat,” explains Doreen Cronin, “and that was three years ago.”

They didn’t let the perfect meet-cute go to waste — they hit it off, both personally and professionally. Soon, they were dating and working together.

Advertisement

“We’re in it now!” Doreen laughs.

The Cronins admit they were at first a touch apprehensive about working together as a new couple. Brian had never collaborated with an author before. But they couldn’t really help it, says Doreen.

“It’s what we were both doing all day long,” she explains. “We’re always talking about books. We’re always talking about ideas.” Luckily, it’s worked out.

“I really love it,” says Brian. “I think it’s made us stronger.”

Their first picture book together was last year’s Lawrence and Sophia. They quickly followed up with Mama in the Moon, about a baby sloth who falls out of a tree at night and has to wait for his mom to s l o w l y come get him.

Advertisement

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books


hide caption

toggle caption

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books

Advertisement


Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books

They got the idea for Mama in the Moon over breakfast — Doreen says they create a lot over coffee and food — and that morning Brian had just read a news story.

“It was a news story about a sloth who had fallen out of a tree,” he says. “It felt real. It is real.” That’s because sloths do, in fact, fall out of trees about once a week for their whole lives. “It kind of wrote itself, really,” Brian says. By the time they left the diner, Doreen already had jotted down some notes and Brian already had some sketches for their second children’s book.

“Baby loved sleeping between his mama and the moon,” Doreen Cronin writes.

“One night, Baby tumbled from the tree. He landed in a soft patch of vines and leaves.

Advertisement

‘Mama, where are you?’ he called.”

Mama in the Moon

Mama in the Moon

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books


hide caption

toggle caption

Advertisement

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books

Mama in the Moon

Mama in the Moon

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books

“We were, like, in tears when we finished it and kind of read it for the first time,” says Doreen.

“I was, actually,” adds Brian.

Advertisement

“We’re both parents, right, so we kind of know that — well, all parents know this — feeling of separation from your child,” explains Doreen. “When they’re waiting for you to come back or they need your comfort, and you can’t always get there.”

In the story, Mama Sloth comforts and reassures Baby Sloth. ‘I’m coming,’ she says. She distracts him, asking him to use all his senses to explore the dark world around him.

“‘Are you close now, Mama,’” the baby sloth calls up from the ground.

“‘I’m closer, Baby. I’m close enough to smell the flowers opening for the night. Can you smell them, too?’”

“Baby watched the bright petals of the flowers bend and fold. He could smell their sweet perfume,” Doreen Cronin writes.

Advertisement

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books


hide caption

toggle caption

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books

Advertisement


Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books

The tenderness of the mama sloth to her baby sloth really comes through in Brian’s art, says Doreen. “I’ve seen the art so many times. I can still feel her love and her comfort and her calm.”

Brian Cronin says his process for creating art is very simple — he doesn’t have one. “Every time I start something, it’s like a kind of a beginning.” For Mama in the Moon, he started with pencil sketches. Then he used poster paints and a marker for the trees to create a broken-line effect.

“I wanted it to feel like there was a human behind the thing,” he says.

One of the challenges in illustrating this story is that it takes place at night —how do you add light so it doesn’t feel too scary and dark? “The moon,” Brian says. The bright, fuzzy orb (fuzzy to mimic the fur on the sloths) is on most of the pages, or else lighting up the night sky. The baby sloth is a bright salmon pink amidst the dark foliage. And when Mama Sloth points out all the things Baby Sloth can smell (like the flowers opening for the night), and hear (like the worms wriggling in the fallen leaves), and feel (like the flutter of moths dancing in the air), they come to life against the charcoal pages in bright, almost neon, yellows, pinks, blues and greens.

Advertisement

Brian Cronin says he hopes the book helps kids fall asleep.

“The reason I wanted to do the dark pages was so that they’re in bed and the mommy and daddy, or whoever it is reading the book, they’re not disturbed by the text or the brightness of anything, and they can just kind of soak it up,” he explains. “It’s fairly relaxing, I think.”

Doreen Cronin agrees.

“I think it’s comfort, safety, and I think it puts us in kind of a quiet space,” she says, “and I hope it does, out in the world. Give us some quiet space. Give kids a quiet space.”

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books

Advertisement


hide caption

toggle caption

Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books


Illustrations © 2024 by Brian Cronin/Rocky Pond Books

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Trending